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House passes 2016 state budget bill

By JT - Jan 14,2016 - Last updated at Jan 14,2016

Deputies vote to endorse the draft state budget law during a Lower House session on Thursday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — The Lower House on Thursday passed the draft 2016 state budget law in addition to the budget bill of independent government institutions, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

The endorsement of the spending bills by majority came after four days of marathon deliberations that started Monday.  

Expenditure in the 2016 draft state budget is put at JD8.49 billion with a projected deficit of JD905 million, while spending of independent public entities is estimated at JD1.9 billion with a deficit forecast to reach JD376 million.  

Finance Minister Omar Malhas said local revenues in the draft 2016 state budget law are forecast to grow by 11.2 per cent compared to 2015, attributing the expected increase to the rise in non-tax revenues by JD120 million, and the rise in collected income tax by 11 per cent in 2016.

As for foreign grants, estimated at JD814 million, the minister broke down the assistance as follows: JD460 million from the Gulf Cooperation Council grant, JD296 million from the US and JD55 million from the EU, Petra reported.

Regarding capital expenditure, it is estimated at JD1,311 million in 2016, higher by around JD215 million, or 19.6 per cent, than the re-estimated expenses in 2015, Malhas said, noting the local development sector accounted for the largest share with 21.5 per cent.

In reply to some MPs on the high public debt, he said the debt until the end of November 2015 stood at JD24.6 billion, constituting 90 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), while the net debt stands at around JD22.5 billion or 83.2  per cent of the GDP. 

Lending was mainly directed to finance the budget deficit and cover the losses of the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and the Water Authority, and when excluding the two agencies’ deficits, the average net debt would constitute around 60 per cent of the GDP, the minister noted.

Regarding recommendations made by the House’s financial committee to reduce current expenditure by 10 per cent, or JD45 million and JD52 million respectively, Malhas said such a decrease would negatively affect the performance of relevant institutions.

On the committee’s recommendation to lessen other current expenditures in the Finance Ministry’s budget by 50 per cent, which equals JD100 million, he said such a measure would compromise the government’s plan to address previous financial commitments estimated at JD150 million for 2016, Petra added.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour also replied to deputies’ deliberations and reviewed the governments’ procedures aimed at improving citizens’ priorities in several sectors.

He also presented detailed information on the government’s economic policies to achieve development in governorates outside the capital, and in addressing NEPCO’s and the Water Authority’s subsidies, Petra added. 

In addition, the premier briefed deputies on the government’s plans to address issues related to employment, small- and medium-sized enterprises, poverty, tourism, agriculture, water, municipalities, higher education, communications, investments, health, education and roads, among others.


MPs’ deliberations mainly urged the government to implement more infrastructure projects and reconsider the prices of goods and services in light of low oil prices and develop economic sectors.

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